Opinion | Liddick: A broadside at the Colorado ballot
October 1, 2018
Here we go again. This election season Colorado voters will be faced with 13 amendments and propositions on the ballot, in addition to the usual crowd of slackers and ne'er-do-wells seeking power and pay from the public purse. The process is a none-too-subtle reminder of why our founding fathers insisted on creating a republic, not a democracy.
Seven proposed amendments would further fatten the state constitution, already giving the Manhattan telephone directory a run for its money. One lowers the minimum age for serving in the state legislature from 25 to 21; it should probably be rejected in the increasingly tenuous hope that the legislature may somehow be brought back to this planet. Exposing a legislative body to the influence of people still undergoing indoctrination in the progressive re-education camps we colloquially call "higher education" will be detrimental to this effort.
Amendment 75 seeks to "protect elections from the undue influence of millionaires," which I would personally support since Jared Polis is currently seeking to buy the governorship. It is, however, a titanic waste of time, paper and ink, since it would be immediately challenged on constitutional grounds and probably be defeated at the Supreme Court. If money is speech, money is speech no matter who is spending it. Although it would be amusing to watch all those who squealed about "money in politics" when it was the Koch brothers try to wriggle around a prohibition of spending by uber-progressive millionaires. It should be defeated to save Colorado the time, expense and effort of solving the whole business in court.
Amendment 73, masquerading as a funding increase for public education, is actually a very wordy way of saying "we're going to build a big new bureaucracy, take more of your money and spend it as we dam' well please, because education is, you know, really cool and important." On average, the amendment proposes that each "corporate income taxpayer with an income tax liability" pay an additional $14,139 per year. Yes, that includes sole proprietorships, "S" corporations and LLCs. Separately, property tax will rise 1 percent, to 7 percent in 2019 and beyond. There is no proposed adjustment for inflation and no caps, so everyone is on an escalator to the stratosphere.
Amendment 73 will also increase state involvement in local education, through creation of a new bureaucracy to spend the new money. It will explicitly operate under the charge to support "educational programs on an equitable basis throughout the state." Which in plain language means that well-heeled districts will pay more, that those not so well-off may pay less. It's a politician's dream: automatic transfer of wealth, mandated by the state constitution. It's nonsense as written.
Amendment 74 is interesting. Narrowly and specifically written, its purpose is to "Compensate landowners for a loss in property value caused by state law or regulation." What it means in particular is, that if the voters of Colorado are dumb enough to pass Proposition 112, they're going to have to pay a lot of money to a lot of landowners.
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The aforesaid Prop 112 proposes that any oil or gas extraction operation have a setback of 2,500 feet from any "public use building." The term is so broadly defined that it could be argued to include any detached home, apartment, business, school, doghouse, outhouse, cathouse, guard shack, lean-to or barn between Hiawatha and Stonington. The purpose is to push the oil and gas business out of Colorado, so that Jared Polis may finally sleep in peace. It's ludicrous and, if Amendment 74 passes, it will be more than the state can afford.
There's other money stuff. Proposition 109 proposes Colorado float $3.5 billion worth of transportation bonds, to be paid off from general revenue funds, without a tax increase.
Hedging that bet, Prop 110 proposes $6 billion in transport bonds, raising the sales tax to 3.52 percent for 20 years to cover. If anyone thinks that in 2038 it will be cut back by the .62 percent it was raised, I've got some land to sell them in Florida. We'll have to wait until the tide's out…
Amendment A has the laudable goal of ending slavery in Colorado. Yep, slavery. Of prisoners.
So, thirteen amendments, a good gaggle of examples of what people can think of for government to do, when left to their own devices. Two of them, Amendment 74 and Proposition 109, are probably worth supporting. As for the rest, take Nancy Reagan's advice.
"Just say no."
Morgan Liddick writes a weekly column for the Summit Daily News.
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